Less than one year ago, Reservoir's Cody Morris took the mound at Joe Cannon Stadium for one of the biggest games of his young career: the District V championship against Old Mill. On that night, the freshman struck out seven in only five innings to help his team win, 3-1.
Morris returned to the mound under the lights at Joe Cannon Stadium to face Howard County rival Glenelg in the annual Strike Out Cancer game on Monday, April 22.
And while there was no title on the line this time, Morris' performance was just as big.
The tall sophomore right-hander pitched a complete-game 1-hitter, striking out 12, to lead Reservoir (6-4) past Glenelg (5-5), 3-2.
"Once he gets into a flow you see what happens," coach Adam Leader said. "When he starts to pinpoint a little bit more it gets real nice."
Morris started the game hot, striking out the first two batters he faced in the top of the first, but Gladiators leadoff hitter Luke Brister reached first when the third strike rolled to the backstop.
Then Glenelg's No. 3 hitter Alex Melcher made the only clean contact of the game against Morris.
The Gladiators' third baseman hammered a 3-1 fastball all the way to the left-center field fence for an RBI triple. It was the only time in the game that a Morris pitch left the infield.
Melcher then scored on Logan Dubbe's dribbler back to the mound. Morris would have been out of the inning unscathed if not for the leadoff strikeout that got away, but Glenelg wasn't questioning its good fortune.
"We thought (the lead) was going to hold. When we scored two I said 'beautiful'," Glenelg coach Dave Boteler said. "Reservoir is tough ... it's been four years and we've never beaten coach Leaders team. We've played a lot of close ball games, competitive as usual. Hopefully one day we'll be seeing Cody Morris in the big leagues and we'll be able to say that we played against him. He's something special, he's something that doesn't come around too much."
Morris faced only 24 batters in the complete game, and saw the bottom third of the Glenelg line-up only twice, retiring the side in order in five of the seven innings.
"The first inning I threw mostly fastballs," said Morris, who struck out each Gladiator batter at least once in the game. "I started mixing in the second inning which helped a lot."
Morris was also aided by his defense.
In the fourth inning, the Reservoir ace issued a free base with one out on a hit batter. But Morris immediately struck out the next batter, and catcher Danny O'Hagan took care of the rest, catching the baserunner trying to steal second, ending the inning.
Then in the fifth, Glenelg's Jacob Liebno led off by reaching base on an infield fielding error, then stole second. After a strikeout, Morris walked Tyler Wolfrey to put runners on first and second with only one out.
But the Gators defense came through again, this time on an unusual 4-6-5 double play ball.
"We worked in practice a lot on defense because thats been our Achilles heel," Morris said. "We played pretty well tonight, we made some clutch plays, like Joey (Janush) and Leo (Estevez) up the middle on that double play, and Danny and I on the strike-out throw-out."
Janush and Estevez were just two of the eight non-seniors (six sophomores) to play for Reservoir in the game.
"Some big plays (on defense) and they got really pumped up," Leader said. "These young guys are starting to feel it a little bit."
Meanwhile, on the other side of the field, Glenelg senior Logan Dubbe was pitching his own gem (6 innings, 8 strikeouts, 1 walk, 8 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned).